Won't you please come back with me?
Back to Eastern Tennessee
July 21st, 1996: Lollapalooza, Newport, TN
I had a real bad experience with the first Lollapalooza and vowed to never attend another so-called "festival", but this year's line-up of Cows, Melvins, Ramones, and even Metallica was so juicy that I had to submit. Only drawback was that the Cows were not playing the first half of the tour, but then I saw that they would be in Newport, Tennessee, which is about an hour from Knoxville, the city of my birth. As you can imagine, there was no way I could pass up introducing my old friends down there to the Cows, plus I hadn't been to old Knoxhell since the previous summer. Why not. Let's take a road trip.
It's a two day drive from NYC to Tennessee, unless you can stand being on the road for 13+ hours in one day. I used to do that, but then I'd be so wiped out by the time I got to my destination I'd be useless for the rest of the night. In retrospect, it might have been better if we had done that. I might have stood a better chance to avoid staying up too late with my friends on Saturday night. By the time Sunday rolled around, we were still hung over and only had three hours sleep, and with the sun beating down on us, it was not a pretty sight. But eventually, after drinking a lot of liquids, we were in pretty good shape as the hours passed closer to Cows time.
About an hour or so before they were due to hit the stage, I went to meet with the band as planned. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet with everyone (they were probably as beat as I was), but I did speak with Shannon for a while. I didn't want to take up too much time, partly because I was in such bad shape, but also because I didn't want to make a nuisance of myself. I told him about the web page I made for them, but he didn't seem to know what the hell I was talking about. "I don't have a computer", he says. Oh well, I didn't care, and still don't, though it would have been nice if he had seen it because I wouldn't have had to try to explain just who the hell I was. Anyway, at least I didn't ask him a bunch of stupid questions.
I did want to know if he had any other real tatoos besides the hangman F_CK drawing, and he showed me that he had a similar one on his right arm, an anchor with DAD underneath it. I thought they made a beautifully matched set. Some day soon I'll have to find out the origin of those tatoos, like how long he's had them, what they mean to him (if anything), what was happening in his life when he had them done, and so on.
I also wanted to find out what the relation to East Tennessee was in that song Part My Konk. Turns out it was not written from personal experience as I had imagined. This was in fact their first visit to eastern TN. It's simply that "Eastern Tennessee" rhymed with "please come back with me". Ah well, it's a great song anyway, and I was happy to be there during their first visit to the area. I only hope that the next time they travel there it won't be in such an artificial environment.
I took a hell of a lot of photos of them playing, but most of them were too dark because the indie stage didn't have a wall or anything to block the sun which was behind them. (I'm starting to think that the "indie" tag just means you have to work harder and get less for the effort.) The "stage" was actually just the trailer end from an eighteen wheeler with the sides removed. Then again, their show didn't seem to suffer and it did make for some impressive funky reflections on the roof where the light shined off.
Shannon had changed into a sailor outfit, and you probably can't tell from this picture, but he had some black stuff smeared around one eye, and some red stuff, I think magic marker ink, made to look like blood coming out of his left ear. He was the sailor who had been in a fight and gotten his ass kicked. At first I didn't make the sailor connection, but when he brought that bugle up to his lips, he looked like the soldier who plays the bugle at 4am or whatever ungodly hour to wake up his fellow troops.
And wake up the troops he did when he jumped off the stage and headed towards the audience. He cleared a decent sized area, with people running away almost like he was GG Allin or something, but all he wanted to do was stand on his head, and he did that for at least two minutes, though it seemed much longer at the time. Back on stage, he connected himself to the microphone stand via heavy duty jumper cables, then transferred them to his ear lobes, where I believe I saw some real blood flowing shortly thereafter, which surprised me since I'd never seen him do anything quite like that before.
Kevin was also photogenic as usual. He was wearing a pink short sleeve shirt that also had a military patch on it, and he had some pretty bizarre facial expressions (once again my photos came out too dark). Thor was introspective as always, and Freddy was mostly hidden away behind the drums, but the most important thing about all of them, then and now, is that their combined music has a powerful force that once again proves the old saying that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
All in all, no surprise to me, the Cows show was the most exciting of the day. The Melvins were also excellent, the Ramones were okay, and we didn't even stay for Metallica. After seeing the Cows, the day seemed complete, plus I think we had run out of patience dealing with the crowd, so we split before the true regional inhabitants showed up, probably all for the better.